Oven-Roasted Vegetables with Tabil

Oven-roasted Vegetables with Tabil

I love the bold flavors of the spices with the soft and smokey flavors of the vegetables in this dish. It’s a bit of a hassle to grill all the slices if you just have the one griddle pan, but the advantage is that you can do it well in advance. No stress involved. Could be a great side dish for a BBQ. We often eat it with duck breast.

1 courgette
1 aubergine
1 bulb of fennel
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
8 cherry tomatoes

Slice the vegetables, except the tomatoes, in 1 cm thick slices and/or wedges. Drizzle with vegetable oil to coat the vegetables. Or how I like to do it: pour a tablespoon of oil in your hands, rub palm to palm, then rub the vegetables with your greasy hands. Yes, you get your hands dirty, but I think the vegetables get more evenly coated, using less oil, getting a better result. So that’s how I do it. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Then grill the vegetables, except the tomatoes in a hot grill pan for about 1-2 minutes each side or until charred. You probably have to do it in batches. Collect the grilled vegetables in an oven dish. When all vegetables, except the tomatoes are grilled, mix it with the marinade (“Tabil”) of:

1 T coriander seeds (grind a little in mortar and pestle)
1 t caraway seeds (grind a little in mortar and pestle)
2 cloves of garlic, grated or pressed
1/8 t cayennepepper
1/8 t currypowder (hot madras)
½ t ground cumin
3-10 T olive oil (depending on your oil-phobia)

Let the warm vegetables marinate with this “Tabil” for at least an hour. Before serving, transfer the dish to a 180°C oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Just before the end, add the cherry tomatoes.

From : A passion for Vegetables by Paul Gayler.

Leftovers of this dish are a nice addition to a simple salad:

Leftover Grilled Vegetables Salad

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Kimchi Consommé

Oyster with Kimchi Consommé

If you’re an oyster purist and only ever want to eat them naked, then please go away. If you’re less rigid and also enjoy them with a splash of red wine vinegar and some chopped shallots, this might be something for you. When I first read about the idea of serving fresh oysters with kimchi consommé (on Momofuku for 2) I knew I had to try it. It just sounds brilliant and besides that, dead-easy to make at home. I was already familiar with the process of clarifying through ice filtration, so when we were having left-over kimchi the other day I knew what to do.

I couldn’t find the exact recipe online and because I read somebody (Ulterior Epicure) was disappointed by the weakness of the brine I decided to add as little water as possible. Just enough to dissolve the gelatin. So this is what I did (before I discovered Chang uses more like a chickenstock than just plain kimchi, ha! But I’m not sorry, because I think it works anyway):


400g mat kimchi
1T clear rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1t sugar

Combine the kimchi, rice wine vinegar and sugar into a liquidizer. Puree as smooth as possible. Measure to see how much milliliter of liquid you have. Take about half of the required gelatin sheets needed to make a pudding/jelly of this amount of liquid. (half is enough because you don’t need it to really set like a pudding) Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water, squeeze them and dissolve into a tiny bit of hot water (50ml?) in a small saucepan. Whisk this into the kimchi-liquid. Freeze it.

Then about 2 days before you need the consommé, take it out of the freezer. Hang a colander/sieve in a bowl and line it with cheesecloth/muslin. (a clean handkerchief will do too) Add the frozen kimchi and place it in your refrigerator or a cool place. Wait for a day or two and voilà: perfectly clear, beautiful consommé. (not much though! I think I ended up with about 100ml or 150ml)

The consommé tasted really lovely, like the essence of kimchi. And it does go really well with fresh oyster, like red wine vinegar. I think it’s a brilliant idea, but now I discovered another dish using this kimchi consommé: a bowl of warm kimchi consommé with braised pork belly, oyster and wilted greens. That’s next on my list and I expect it to be even better!

Making Kimchi Consommé

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Amateur Food Photography

Improvised Photo Studios

People regularly ask me about my photos or my camera. I don’t have a fancy camera, it’s just a Fuji Finepix S5700 with 7.1 megapixels. And although I’m quite happy with it, it has one major drawback over the camera I had before: when it’s dark, the camera will adjust the ISO! I hate that! And there is no easy way to stop my camera from doing that and trusting me I will keep it steady. I should learn to operate it manually. But I still haven’t. I think photoshop is easier. So, my camera is always on automatic, macro and no-flash. That’s it.

The best photos, I make in my window sill on a cloudy day. With an old piece of linoleum glued on two pieces of multiplex for a background. When the sun is shining I close the blinds. And when the sun has set, I use this little photo studio I created in a corner of my kitchen closet with three 150 Watt halogen lights with one switch. Not as nice as natural light of course, but most of the time its quite acceptable.

The window sill photos are often too blue, the closet studio photos are often to yellow or reddish. Nothing a little photoshop can’t fix. And oh, I like extending the plate with the clone pencil. So it looks like I have huge, trendy dinnerplates. :-)


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Tomato Chilli Jam

This jam sounds stranger than it is. Actually, it’s just a cross between ketchup and sweet chili sauce, which probably doesn’t sound very appealing either. Hmm, it’s nothing pretentious, it’s just a surprisingly nice condiment for cheese, (toasted) cheese-sandwiches, chicken, pork, eggs or anything you can think of. Combines perfectly with coriander. The original recipes tells you to only blend half of the tomatoes and add the other half in small cubes afterwards, but I like my jam to be smooth, so I blend all tomatoes.


500g very ripe tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 red chillies (or more or less)
2 t finely chopped ginger
30ml fish sauce
300g caster sugar
100ml red wine vinegar (I used Chinese red vinegar)

  • Blend the skinned, whole tomatoes in a food processor along with the garlic, chillies, ginger and fish sauce until the mixture reaches a puree consistency. I blended it for about 2 minutes. (because you need the pits in the tomatoes for their pectin, we won’t sieve the mixture and that’s why I prefer to skin the tomatoes. If you’re less fussy, then don’t bother)
  • Pour the mixture into a pan together with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and slowly stir. Once the mixture has reached boiling point, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. But in the meanwhile, taste to see if your chillies were hot enough or whether you need some more fish sauce of vinegar. I added a Madame Jeanette, cause my chillies lacked heat.
  • Pour the mixture into a warmed sterilized jars (about 2 x 250 ml). When cooled to room temperature, close the jars and refrigerate. You can keep this jam for quite some time. Weeks if not months.

From: The Sugar Club Cookbook by Peter Gordon.

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Dan Dan Noodles (担担面)

Dan Dan Mian

I call this the spaghetti Bolognese from Sichuan: very popular around the world and everybody makes his own version. With less or more ingredients, sesame-paste or not, peanuts or not, lots of oil, spicy, not spicy, pork or beef and sometimes more like a soup than a bowl of noodles. This is my version, spicy and packed full of flavors:

serves 4-6

The order of assembling (not preparing) the dish is:

400 g dried noodles
Udon is nice, but any noodle made from wheat will do. You could even use Italian pasta. Cook according the instructions on the package.

Cold sauce to mix with the noodles
2 T sesame paste or tahin
1 T sesame oil
1 T light soy sauce or Japanese Soy sauce
1 T Chinese black vinegar
½ T caster sugar (skip if you used the sweetened black vinegar)
1½ T or more chili oil
Just mix everything together, taste and increase any of the ingredients to your liking. You mix this with the cooked noodles, just enough to give it a light coating. Add a splash of water if it gets too sticky/starchy.

Meat sauce to put on top of noodles
400 g minced pork (or beef)
2 T chopped garlic
2 T chopped ginger
2 T chopped spring onion or shallot
1 T crushed/ground sichuanpepper
2 T Shaoxing ricewine
3 T chilibean sauce
Like any other meatsauce: panfry the minced meat until brown. Take it out of the pan or push to one side and panfry the garlic, ginger, onion and sichuanpeppers. When fragrant, mix with the minced meat and add the Shaoxing ricewine. Wait a few seconds to evaporate, then add the chilibeansauce. Fry for about 30 seconds, then add enough water/stock until the meat is just covered/moist. Simmer for half an hour or more. Season with soy sauce or salt if necessary, but be careful, somehow Dan Dan noodles can easily get too salty. If you like your sauce sticky like I do, you can thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with cold water.

Garnish on top
Chopped spring onion
Stirfried ya cai *)
Chopped coriander
Roasted and chopped peanuts

Coat the warm noodles with the cold sesame based sauce and divide into individual serving bowls. Add 1 or 2 big spoonfuls of meatsauce on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with spring onion, yacai, coriander and peanuts. Serve with a simple vegetable dish like stirfried Chinese broccoli (gai lan) with garlic sauce.

*) Yacai is not easy or maybe I should say practically impossible to find. It’s pickled greens from a specific mustard cabbage (Brassica juncea, tsatsai). Other recipes say you can substitute it with zha cai (the pickled tuber/stem from the same plant) or Tianjin (preserved chinese cabbage), I wouldn’t, I’d just leave it out. But that’s because I’m not too keen on pickled stuff, yacai is an exception.

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Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

I agree with Paul Bocuse that many heirloom vegetables should stay forgotten. But only the ones that ran out of fashion because of their taste, like turnips. Yuk! On the other hand, there are also vegetables that just became unpopular because they’re such a pain peeling/preparing or have unwanted side effects (gas), like Jerusalem artichokes. But Jerusalem artichokes, “aardperen” in dutch, actually taste very nice! They have a sweet and nutty flavor. You can serve them raw, thinly sliced with a lemony vinaigrette or make a super-easy, super-creamy soup.


500g Jerusalem artichoke
1 medium potato
1 smaller onion
± 300 ml chickenstock or water
milk or cream (optional)
lemon juice
salt & pepper

  • Peel the potato and Jerusalem artichokes and cut into similar size chunks (1,5 cm). After peeling a Jerusalem artichoke you should immediately plunge it in some water with a drop of lemon juice, vinegar or ascorbic acid to prevent it from turning gray, which happens quite quickly. The potato is only there to eliminate or reduce the gas-effect of the Jerusalem artichoke.
  • Saute the chopped onion in some oil or butter for 5-10 minutes until soft, translucent and starting to brown.
  • Add the potato and Jerusalem artichoke and saute some more.
  • Add enough of the chickenstock to cover the vegetables and simmer until they’re done/soft. It took me longer than I expected, about 40 minutes.
  • Blizz in a heat-proof blender until smooth and silky.
  • Add more chickenstock or milk/cream to your liking. I like my soup thick, but I know others don’t.
  • Add pepper and salt to your taste. Splash of lemon juice is nice too.
  • Okay, so that’s the soup.
    Now you want to pimp it.
    This is what I tried:

  • Smoked brown shrimp with samphire and chives (top photo)
  • Samphire with garlic croutons and chives (bottom photo)
  • Chopped roasted hazelnuts with chives. (photo here)
  • Some crispy bacon or smoked salmon will probably work too. Roquefort? Anything salty, I guess.
  • I blanched the samphire (zeekraal in dutch) by pouring boiling water over it in a sieve. Then dressed it with a little bit of olive oil and pepper. (never use salt with samphire) The shrimps I smoked for about 10 minutes on apple-wood in my stovetop smoker. I tried smoking them with and without their skin and decided that smoking them without is easier and just as good or maybe even better.

    Posted in Shellfish, soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

    Kimchi Pancakes

    Kimchi Pancakes

    I’ve never been a big fan of pancakes, until I discovered the Asian way of making pancakes. First Okonomiyaki, this Japanese pancake stuffed with “whatever you like”, which is normally a combination of vegetables, meat and seafood (click here for my version) and now this Korean pancake, stuffed with kimchi. I like kimchi a lot, but somehow it never fits with the way we eat lunch or dinner, so we hardly ever eat it. But with this recipe I’m sure we will eat kimchi more often. Packed full of flavor, great for lunch, fingerfood or quick dinner (especially when you have leftover mashed potatoes).

    (for 2 small eaters, I’d double it next time)

    1 potato
    splash of milk
    90 g mat kimchi (simply made from napa cabbage)
    50 g firm tofu (as available in supermarkets)
    25 g flour (I prefer the light bapao flour, but any kind will do)
    1 egg
    1 t grated garlic
    1 T vegetable oil
    salt & pepper

    1. Boil the potato, then make mash with a little bit of milk.
    2. Squeeze the kimchi to remove as much liquid as you can.
    3. Squeeze the tofu, then crumble.
    4. Combine in big bowl the mashed potato, kimchi, tofu, flour, egg, garlic, pepper and salt. Be careful with the salt though, the kimchi is already pretty salty.
    5. The recipe I used said to combine it with your hands, but I’m sure a spoon will do fine as well. And although I didn’t have lumps, maybe next time I would mix the egg and flour first or dust the flour over the other ingredients. I use bapao flour, which is nice and fluffy. Be aware that the mixture is quite “wet”.
    6. Heat a pan, add some vegetable oil and add big spoonfuls of the pancake mixture. Sculpture with your spoon into nice little, round pancakes (about 1 cm thick). Bake for about 2-3 minutes per side until more than golden.

    The recipe said to serve it with a dip of 3T soy, 1t lemon juice and ½t sesame oil but I think there must be something better. My partner liked it with sweet chili, but I’m not convinced. So suggestions are welcome and I will come back on this. Maybe with something completely non-Asian like sour cream ;-).

    From: Korean Cooking (De Koreaanse Keuken) by Young Jin Song

    Recipe for Kimchi Pancakes

    Posted in Other Carbs, Other Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments